Friday, July 9, 2010

Gabrielle Calvocoressi & Matthew Dickman: Dinner and a Reading, Wednesday, July 21, 2010, Woodward's Garden

Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Lucky me, I discovered poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi through some circuitous Twitter route many months ago... wherein lies the beautiful random of twitter.  And how could I not immediately latch onto her (although I do try to tamp down twitter stalk tendencies)? She's balm; she's manna.  She takes twitter to a place I think I'd secretly hoped it could go: beyond inane blow-by-blow updates and proclamations; past a daily grinding patter into something, well, artful. 

When I found her she'd just landed in Italy on a 6-week stipend.  Here - in 140ish character bites - is the wild I leapt into:

Blood oranges & nutella. Pecorino, spring onions & tomatoes to cook with orrichiette & anchovies this Sunday. Now nap & Mafouz in my turret.

Once my mother said how much she loved me. Once my mother said, "No one who ever sees your eyes move around like that will ever trust you."

Am I working on something or am I losing myself.

Louise Bourgeois is dead. Try staring that in the face.

Maybe it's about not knowing but loving deeply anyway. I don't know. Maybe a walk to the blue field.

The song I'm listening to on loop as I wait to give a presentation about God & my mother & me:

Finish The Great Gatsby and lie alone for the last night and listen to the owl. More than anything I've loved this turret. This silent time

I want a space like this. A house w/ quiet & owls & hills. And a study with no books. And bedroom full of light. And reading room. And love.

Unfettered Twitter is utterly suited to Calvocoressi, to her expansive vision of things and of how art might work. She's gripped by Elvis, place, religion, desire, boxing! (she, too, writes the sports desk column for American Poetry). Alongside is a word she's made her own, and made me love.  And she does much making alongside; writes against music, video, film, novels (she's always deep into a classic in her tweet stream). She does this, she says, in part for answers, but also, "to push into the possibility that silence is the answer" (see Isak interview).

Writing, for Calvocoressi, is a coming close, a seeking (alongside), a kind of prayer.  She's about the connectedness of things, and the mining of that there alliance... and about sitting ardently with not-knowing, too. A randomly found Publishers Weekly review claims her poems result in "a not unpleasant ambiguity"... Oh, friends! They result in hellfire-in-your-head gorgeous ambiguities. Read them. Hear them read by her. With dinner.

Matthew Dickman
Oh, and the crazy-beauty of Matthew Dickman's poems?  Deserves a post all its own.  But I'll cheat and offer links:  Read his achy "Slow Dance" in Narrative Magazine, find the smart New Yorker profile on him and his twin brother (also a poet) here. Have dinner and hear him read with Gabrielle C. at our restaurant, Woodward's Garden, Wednesday, July 21st, 6pm ($35 per person, 3-courses, includes wine). Please book by phone, as you cannot book through Open Table for this night - (415) 621-7122.

Prayer After a Long Time Away 
- Gabrielle Calvocoressi

God, if you are the horn
and the wind that blows it

then who am i to turn my back
and breath from you.

Too long I say.  Too long
since I sat in that cloistered room

beside the cornfield and let
the spirit move me as the Fisher

Price record player strained beneath
the weight of Dexter Gordon

and Jackie McLean.  All that vinyl
and the cheap needle that skimmed

along the top as I pursed my lips
and tried to show restraint when

all I wanted was to sound across
the town that bore me so much

ill will.  I tell you I'm
ashamed.  To have held my breath

so long.  To have said, "I give up"
over and over when I could

have made a joyful noise instead.
Were you the songs or the silences

between them, the rustle I took
for nothingness?  How young

I was.  All those saints
calling to me from the bars,

clamoring in my tin ear.

         -From her newest collection, Apocalyptic Swing